The Mayoral Standings Become Clearer, Thanks to Three Polls

John Connolly, Marty Walsh, Dan Conley, and Charlotte Golar Richie are fighting for the two final spots.

Three polls released in three days, with strikingly similar results, suggest that we have a pretty good snapshot of where the Boston mayoral race stands—or, rather, stood roughly 10 days before next Tuesday’s election.

Below I’ve put the results of the three polls—Suffolk/Herald, UNH/Globe, and WBUR/MassINC—and the rounded average of the three.

As you can see, John Connolly has a significant lead. Combined with his financial resources and strong field organization, Connolly would seem to be in very strong shape to get one of the top two spots.

Behind Connolly are Marty Walsh, Charlotte Golar Richie, and Dan Conley all bunched together. Those four are clearly emerging as the top tier in the race for the two final spots on the November ballot.

Conley has plenty of ad money, but so far it hasn’t seemed to get him anywhere. Perhaps that will change in his final, substantial, ad blitz, but I am a little skeptical. No question he’s in the mix, but his path seems a little tougher than the others in the top tier.

Marty Walsh should be in stronger shape. He is just now launching his ad blitz, and has a very strong field organization. But Walsh’s lack of forward movement has to be concerning to his camp. Despite emerging early on as the co-frontrunner with Connolly, Walsh has absolutely stagnated, even as undecideds have slowly moved off the fence. Walsh had 11 percent in the July Suffolk/Herald poll, and 11 percent in the August Sage Systems poll; he has 11 percent in the average of the three new polls. That, and Walsh’s reach outside of Dorchester and union households suggests that he’s got to rely on Get Out The Vote rather than persuasion—although, again, he’s just now trying wide-scale persuasion via TV ads, so we’ll see.

Richie, alone among the top tier candidates, has no money for ads to help in the final stretch. But she has the demographics. If undecided black and women voters break disproportionately to her, as you might expect, she should have an advantage over Conley and Walsh, or at least a counter to their advertising edge. Of course, that’s a big if.

Assuming these polls are fairly accurate snapshots of the electorate—which they might not be, of course—it’s a little hard to see anyone else surging enough to reach the top two. I surely don’t want to count anyone out: Felix Arroyo and Rob Consalvo both have good field organizations, and Barros, Ross, and Walczak all have some reasons to feel momentum on their side. But they’ve got some real distance to top two, and not much time.


  • massappeal

    Good post, but what happened to Barros in the polling chart?

  • crh617

    Thanks for this analysis, David. But Barros should be included in the chart to make it complete.

  • Rob

    Connolly seems to be the clear #1 based on this data and just what we have all seen, not to mention the love he’s gotten from the Globe and Herald pretty much non-stop. Curious to see what happens to that #2 slot. Ritchie just has not caught fire for various reasons. Same with Conley. Walsh seems the most likely #2 but he’s taken a real hit on the union stuff, especially once again from the Globe and Herald. Walsh has his union guys out non-stop in the high voting neighborhoods but it doesn’t seem to be making a dent really with undecideds. There is a path for a Consalvo or Arroyo to rely on their loyal bases and strong field to eke out that #2 spot by a sliver. Consalvo has District 5 solidly behind him and also a strong presence in East Boston. His field has appeared strong all along. Arroyo has JP as well as a strong (and possibly undercounted) base with Latino voters and progressives. People have voted for both of them before many times so it’s not a leap to go with them as a safe choice. None of these polls take into account the BTU endorsement fwiw. I also think there’s a question of where the city workers and families land – they’re not with Connolly for the most part so where do they go now (and also in the final)? Fascinating stuff!

  • E. Peter Alvarez

    I am pretty sure that John Barros is in the Top Tier. This poll released to day stopped polling the day before the endorsement—really does not capture momentum or anything. Barros is definitely NOT getting 3% of the vote, that’s for sure.

    • Rob

      Respectfully, I do not think Barros is in the top tier. But it is weird he’s not included above. He will certainly do better than 3% as well.

  • Liz OConnor

    I am fielding calls and emails all day and evening from people who have converted from other campaigns or recently decided in favor of John Barros following the Globe’s thoughtful and insightful endorsement. I don’t think these polls are telling the current story.

    I think there are many people in Boston who want a candidate of color in the final, and they see John Barros as both the best candidate and the most viable candidate of color.

  • Steve Abraira

    If John Barros breaks the top 8 I’ll be amazed. Picked the wrong race, should’ve gone for the council.

  • Steve Abraira

    John Connolly is a boob, anyone who meets him in the final is getting some help from menino and the also ran candidates, most of whom loathe Connolly for his backstabbing and two faced nature he’s shown over the years. I’ll go with Walsh, I don’t think his polling numbers are a true reflection of his organization and base, which is a lot more than just unions. Also keep in mind that the east side of the city might be sick of being ruled by the west side.

  • Thomas Lyons

    I have seen TV ads for Connolly, Conley, Walsh, Richie, Consalvo, Arroyo and Ross. I have seen internet ads For Connolly, Walsh and Richie.The “top tier” are all on TV, maybe more for some but all on TV.

  • bosrace13

    I think creating a narrative that has a top tier of three candidates is self fulfilling. The more voters see that narrative the more support the second tier loses. It’s too bad for a guy like Consalvo who has a real path to get close to the votes needed out of his neighborhoods based on past voting history and has/ had a real shot until this poll narrative out of the news organizations the last couple days. I guess it is certainly easier for readers to grasp the race if they have the field reduced for them and three names and pictures instead of the maybe 6 that fall within the margin of error for the second spot that still have/had a shot. I think it is a bit of disservice done to the race.

    • Liz OConnor

      Five minutes ago, I got an email from someone I don’t know, with this photo. The email said, “I want you to know this is a FIRST. I have NEVER put a sign on my lawn for ANYBODY.” It is voters like this one that make these polls so unreliable. This field is brimming with engaged voters who are not showing up as “most likely to vote,” and if we keep allowing those voters to determine the outcome of our elections, we will get more of the same candidates cycle after cycle. Voters of Boston, I implore you: vote for the candidate that you want to be the Mayor. Do not vote for the candidate that you think can win the election based on polls of 500-800 residents.

    • Rob

      Pretty true. These polls are self-fulfilling prophecies in many ways. Flip side, though, is people want snap shots of the race too. I think what’s frustrating here is that the numbers are so close yet being treated like huge leads and/or gaps. Look at the cross tabs. You’re not talking very many actual voters separating these candidates.

  • AstroLFW

    Is anyone looking at the demographics of these polls? For example, the MassINC poll had 325 whites, 80 African American, 82 other – or 67% white. Yet the 2010 Census shows whites at 54%. Now, the racial breakdown of residents versus registered and likely voters is
    probably different (ie non-citizens, not registered, demographic
    differences in under 18 population). But makes me take these polls with a bit of a grain of salt.